DARK FIRES by Brenda Joyce

PUBLISHER: Dell, 6/1991
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England/New York, USA
SERIES: Bragg Saga, #4

FROM PUBLISHER: "He murdered his wife," they whispered. Nicholas Bragg, Earl of Dragmore, was notorious--even after a British court found him innocent. Now they called him Lord of Darkness, as much for his rakish good looks as for his black reputation.

She was an innocent at passion's gate. Arriving uninvited at the massive stone manor, she shivered with terror--and excitement. Jane Barclay was his ward. Her sunny, innocent nature was in violent contrast to his hot temper. He was wild, explosive, an uncouth Texas rakehell--exactly the wrong kind of man for an English beauty to tame.

Together they would be swept into the dark storm of their passionate destiny...and wild, all-consuming love.

SUMMARY: The hero is Nicholas Bragg, 33, from Texas but living in England for 10 years. He has silver eyes, black hair and a dark complexion. His wife died in a house fire and Nick was accused of setting the fire but was later aquited. Everyone still thinks he did it and therefore has no friends but one. He has a five year old son.

His ward is seventeen year old Jane Barclay, platinum blonde hair, blue eyes. Nick is widowed and Jane, his dead wife's cousin, comes to live with him when her guardian can't afford her anymore. Jane's parents both died years before. Her mother was a famous actress and Jane has done some acting too.

Nick doesn't want her to stay there so he's pretty rude to her. He's also very attracted to her but doesn't act on it because Jane is so young, just seventeen. Nick is also very jealous of her and his best friend Jon Lindley. They get along great and flirt with each other.

Jane ends up falling in love with him and climbs into bed with him one night. While he's asleep, they have sex. He wakes up to find her in his bed and he is furious! Later she tells him she loves him. He tells her she doesn't know what love is, they get into an argument and she flees to London, pregnant, to stay with an old male friend of hers. She leaves a letter telling Nick where she's going but he doesn't contact her nor does she tell him she's pregnant. Nick sends her male friend money to help support Jane but the man never tells Jane this.

Nick, somehow, finds out that Jane has a baby, Nicole, and is told that she is his. The rest of the novel is pretty boring. Jane and Nick end up back together and get married. He tells her that he is the product of rape. His French mother was kidnapped and raped by an Indian, resulting in a pregnancy.

Out of nowhere, Nick's dead wife shows up. She tells him she's the one who started the fire. She and her lover fled to America, where she's been living. She's only returned because she's grown bored with the man and has run out of money. So she thinks she can return home, tell everyone she'd forgotten her memory, and continue on as if nothing ever happened.

Jane assumes Nick is going to stay with his wife so she and their friend Jon travel to New York to visit with Nick's younger brother Rathe. Nick doesn't know where she's gone. Rathe's story is in the book 'Violet Fire.' Rathe and his wife Grace think that Jane and Jon are lovers but Jane confides in Grace that she is in love, and has a child and one on the way, with her brother-in-law Nick. Rathe tells Nick that Jane is there so he travels to New York from England. Jane tells Nick that she will be his mistress but he tells her that he's in the process of divorcing his wife. So that's what happens. They then travel to Texas to visit his parents, whom Nick hasn't seen since he moved to England ten years before.

And they live happily ever after!

MY THOUGHTS: I've read this book twice now and I still don't like it very much. I think Jane is very weak and uninteresting. There's no fire in her. Nick is very, very angry and violent. He cusses all the time and is a big fan of the F-word. He's very jealous. Right before he came to England ten years before, he found out that the man he thought was his father, Derek, wasn't, and that his mom was raped and the rapest is his father. So he's really angry that the truth was kept from him. He was in love with his first wife but she hated him. Then when she found out that he was part American Indian, she really hated him and their son, Chad. Though there is no violence toward the heroine, I consider this book to be a bodice ripper because of the way the hero acts.

This is the order of the Bragg series:

Innocent Fire- This is the story of Nick's parents.
Firestorm- The story of Nick's sister Storm.
Violet Fire- Story of Nick's brother Rathe.
Dark Fires- Nicholas Bragg.
The Darkest Heart- The story of Shoz's (from The Fires of Paradise) parents.
The Fires of Paradise- Nick's brother Rathe's daughter Lucy's story.
Scandalous Love- Nick's oldest daughter Nicole's story.
Secrets- Nick's youngest daugher Regina's story. Her husbands name is Slade Delanza.
After Innocence- The story of Slade's youngest brother Edward and his wife Sophie.

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